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Florida has its first Latina Lieutenant Governor, Jeanette Nuñez

It's "a huge source of pride for me, for my family, but most importantly for my community,” Nuñez said.
Image: Florida Voters Cast Their Ballots In State's Primary
Voters arrive to cast ballots at a polling place on Aug. 28, 2018 in Boca Raton, Florida. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is vacating his post to run for the Senate against the Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson, leaving a competitive field vying to replace him.Joe Skipper / Getty Images

MIAMI — Florida has elected its first Latina Lieutenant Governor - Jeanette Nuñez.

She ran alongside Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, who beat Democrat Andrew Gillum in a high profile race that was one of the most closely watched nationally.

Nuñez, "when she takes office, will be the highest ranking Hispanic female in the history of the state of Florida," DeSantis said during his victory speech on Tuesday night.

Nuñez, 47, told NBC News during the closing days of the campaign that being chosen as Lieutenant Governor is “a huge source of pride for me, for my family, but most importantly for my community.”

She was born and raised in Miami to Cuban parents and is currently Speaker Pro Tempore of the Florida House of Representatives.

Gillum would have been the first African-American governor of Florida. DeSantis is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. Many saw the race as a test for where the state and possibly the country is headed in 2020.

Nuñez was less supportive of Trump during the 2016 presidential primaries and backed Marco Rubio. At the time, she tweeted: “Wake up Florida voters, Trump is the biggest con-man there is, adding the hashtags #supportsKKK and “#nevertrump,” the Sun-Sentinel reported. The tweet was deleted after Nuñez was named DeSantis’ running mate.

As a state representative, Nuñez broke rank with some in her party, and sponsored a bill that offered undocumented students in-state college tuition rates at colleges and universities.

Asked last week how she and the president differ on immigration given her trajectory with the law she sponsored, Nuñez said, “it’s my understanding that Trump wants to find a fix for DACA students and that falls into the context of the law that I sponsored, that I supported.”

Nuñez said their economic platform of low taxes will help Puerto Ricans and other groups. She said keeping taxes low will lead to “more jobs, more businesses and more opportunities for students to find high paying jobs when they graduate. That’s important for every community: Puerto Rican, Cuban, Venezuelan, you name it.”

But when it comes to Cuba, she rejected the idea of promoting business with the island. Governors have broad authority to promote trade with Cuba and it could be a large source of revenue for businesses in the state.

“I think Ron has shown his commitment to ensure that we, as a state, are not going to do business with Cuba. We’re not going to do business with businesses that do business with Cuba,” she said citing the Cuban government’s “tyrannical regime and the abusive human rights and oppression.”

Asked if she would promote cutting business ties with China, which also has a poor human rights record, she said “that’s something we would look at. I haven’t discussed that with him [DeSantis], so I wouldn’t be able to comment.”

Nuñez said that running as Lieutenant Governor was "a really unique opportunity. And it’s one that I hope to do well, to represent women, and Hispanics throughout the state of Florida."